Spartanburg County, SC – Spartanburg County Sheriff’s Office (SCSO) Deputy Austin Derek Aldridge was murdered in the line of duty on Tuesday while responding to a report of a domestic disturbance.
SCSO Lieutenant Kevin Bobo said the incident began at approximately 3:20 p.m. on June 21, after the sheriff’s office received a report of a domestic disturbance at a residence on Chaffee Drive in the Oak Forest subdivision, WYFF reported.
Deputy Aldridge, 25, responded to the scene and was approaching the home when a gunman opened fire on him, police said.
“He was ambushed,” Spartanburg County Sheriff Chuck Wright told reporters on Tuesday night. “He was shot.”
The suspect fled the scene just before neighbors ran to help the wounded deputy, WYFF reported.
“I headed back in and called 911 and let them know there was an officer shot and we need assistance now,” one witness told the news outlet.
Additional deputies raced to the scene to secure the area in order for emergency medical personnel to reach the wounded hero, WYFF reported.
Meanwhile, another deputy spotted the suspect’s vehicle traveling down Anderson Mill Road in the direction of Highway 290.
Lt. Bobo said the suspect acted as if he planned to surrender during the ensuing traffic stop, but that he then opened fire on the deputy, WYFF reported.
The deputy returned fire, hitting the gunman twice, Sheriff Wright said.
The sheriff said the deputy was “by himself for a while” while other deputies were responding, the Spartanburg Herald-Journal reported.
“After knowing this guy had done what he did, he didn’t back up at all,” he said of the deputy. “He kept trucking, he kept going.”
Despite his wounds, Heard continued driving down Anderson Mill Road and later crashed just prior to reaching the Highway 290 intersection, according to Lt. Bobo.
The suspect allegedly opened fire on deputies yet again and took off running into the woods.
No other deputies were injured during the exchange of gunfire, according to WMBF.
Deputies established a perimeter and dispatched SWAT and K9 units to search for him, WYFF reported.
They ultimately located Heard lying on the ground next to a rifle, Sheriff Wright said.
“Our men showed great restraint knowing that one of our guys had just been ambushed without firing any shots at him. They just arrested him,” the sheriff told reporters. “We are the good guys. We do it right and we did it right. I just ask you to pray for our deputy.”
Heard was transported to the hospital in unknown condition, WYFF reported.
Sheriff Wright said he is expected to survive, according to WMBF.
Deputy Aldridge succumbed to his wounds at Spartanburg Regional Medical Center shortly before 9:30 p.m., Spartanburg County Coroner Rusty Clevenger told WYFF.
“Please keep the family of Deputy Aldridge and his extended family at the Sheriff’s Office in your thoughts and prayers during their time of loss and grief,” Clevenger said, according to WYFF. “Deputy Aldridge’s widow and family have asked for privacy in the initial stages of her grief.”
The South Carolina Law Enforcement Division is handling the ongoing investigation into the deadly shooting, WYFF reported.
Deputy Aldridge served the SCSO for approximately three years, The State reported.
“He was a really good young man,” Sheriff Wright said, fighting back tears.
The sheriff posted a photo to Facebook on Wednesday morning showing Deputy Aldridge giving a young child a teddy bear while he was out on patrol.
“Deputy Aldridge served the citizens of Spartanburg with a servants heart and a passion to truly make a change,” Sheriff Wright wrote. “Words can’t adequately describe this photo, but Deputy Aldridge’s actions day in and day out changed lives. We will miss you Austin.”
A fundraising campaign established to help Deputy Aldridge’s family in the wake of their loss has raised over $29,000 so far.
A gofundme page has been created by friends inside the LE family of Spartanburg County Deputy Austin Aldridge. Deputy Aldridge was only 25-years-old when he was shot and killed in the line of duty on Tuesday. https://t.co/KqrsqakPv6 ⚫️🔵⚫️ pic.twitter.com/8coQq3Hd2O
— Cody Alcorn (@CodyAlcorn) June 22, 2022
Heroes aren't forgotten and we won't forget Deputy Austin Aldridge because he was a hero.
Praying for the Aldridge Family and the Spartanburg County Sheriff's Office during this time of tragic loss. Thankful for his service to our community. 💔👮🏻 pic.twitter.com/MkDFUohRnV
— Bobby J. Cox 🇺🇸 (@BobbyCoxSC) June 22, 2022
#LawEnforcement #Hero Down-Sadly @SptbgSheriff Deputy Austin Derek Aldridge, 25, was shot & killed responding to a domestic disturbance. Our hearts & prayers go out to his family blood & blue.💙
Story: https://t.co/rdLmFtLiAm#OfficerDown #RememberTheFallen #LODD @GLFOP pic.twitter.com/Jjw9fZxZEE
— 💙#BackTheLEOs🇺🇸 (@BackTheLEOs) June 22, 2022
The Spartanburg County Coroner announced deputy Austin Derek Aldridge died last night after responding to a domestic call. He was 25 years old & with the Spg. Co. Sheriff’s Office for three years.💔🙏🏽 pic.twitter.com/wIA9sZ7zAv
— Victoria Carmen (@vcarmentv) June 22, 2022
Our thoughts and prayers are with the family of Spartanburg County Sheriff’s Office Deputy Austin Derek Aldridge, both blood and blue. Thank you for your service.
Deputy Austin Aldridge, your life mattered.